The only thing that we as Americans have in common is that we like to be left alone to do what we want to do in our own backyards. The problem is that we are constantly in each other’s faces.
ILLUSTRATION: ROBERT NEUBECKER
Although I was raised in New Jersey and live in Manhattan, I was fortunate to experience life in other parts of the country while in the Army (“America, Meet America,” Review, July 1). As a result of my military service, I lived in North Carolina, Kentucky, South Dakota and Texas. Thus, unlike my friends who never have left the liberal cocoons of the Northeast or the West Coast, I appreciate why those in red states don’t understand why a 14-year-old girl can be suspended for saying a prayer in school, but the same 14-year-old may get an abortion without her parents’ involvement.Similarly, while half the people I knew in South Dakota had guns, there was less firearms-related violence in a year in that state than there was in a weekend in Chicago.
Edward S. Hochman
New York As a foreigner who has become an American and then spent a year abroad in yet another country, and someone who has lived for 17 years in Southern California and now lives in northern Florida, and someone whose family is politically divided, I had my share of cultural shocks. The only thing that we as Americans have in common is that we like to be left alone to do what we want to do in our own backyards. The problem is that we are constantly in each other’s faces because of social media, the internet and TV. We don’t need to meet each other; we need to leave each other alone. Seventy years ago the domestic exchange program worked because we had one cultural bond—Christianity. Now that bond is gone. The left’s worship of government cannot be reconciled with the right’s Christian beliefs. Our political beliefs have become our religious beliefs and vice versa. We are no longer e pluribus unum; we have splintered into two very different Americas. Unless the two Americas leave each other alone, we might not have one America for much longer.
St. Johns, Fla.
Having been an exchange student myself, I can appreciate the worth of bringing people from different cultures together for better understanding. What we face today in our politically ravaged society isn’t going to be solved by a meet-and-greet. Rural folks and urbanites aren’t homogeneous groups, and our divides aren’t based on misunderstandings. We are teetering on the edge of a civil war. Would it have been helpful for the Union and Confederate soldiers to sit around the dinner table? We used to all listen to the same nightly news. We disagreed politically, but our conclusions were more often based on the same facts. The media need to ratchet down the hate and deliberate lies before we can begin to break bread.
Although I am perfectly comfortable breaking bread and rubbing elbows with passionate liberals, I did ask our children to please not marry a left-wing zealot who might feel compelled to lecture us at family gatherings about proper progressive values. If I need further insight into those values, I can watch any TV network newscast. My conservative friends and I don’t deny our conservatism, but we do tend to keep it under wraps among liberals. Completely open exchanges about values and ideology might open more wounds than they heal.
Thanks for your letter. The last two lines are, for me, the crux of the issue:
"My conservative friends and I don’t deny our conservatism, but we do tend to keep it under wraps among liberals. Completely open exchanges about values and ideology might open more wounds than they heal."
As do you, I and many of my conservative friends tend to stay silent or murmur niceties when in social situations where very liberal people are speaking their mind on politics and government policies. We were taught that this is the practice of 'good manners.'
Manners also prohibit us from pointing out 'bad' manners to the offenders.
When the only voices are those on the left, unconstrained by 'manners,' ethics, or morals, they are the only ones that will be heard. We need to speak up (within the bounds of decency and without getting heated), regardless of how our social companions feel about it.
The conversation between us all has to start somewhere.
Or, perhaps simply retire from the field ... the tide of so called "progressivism" cannot be rolled back and the inevitable course is seen everyday around the world and it is self-destructive. Perhaps simply seek out people who value personal responsiblty and a self-reliant work ethic and surround yourself with those who share that ethos? Those values will separate themselves regardless.
@ALAN THEN Mr. Then's suggestion is a prescription for defeat &, eventually, the United States becoming Panem of the Hunger Games. Of course progressivism can be rolled back. I would remind Mr. Then that when the 13 Colonies declared their independence, they challenged the greatest empire in the world with almost unlimited resources. Not surprisingly, only about 1/3 of the colonists supported the rebellion, 1/3 stayed loyal to the Crown & 1/3 sat on the sidelines.
For too long, we have retired from the field, . Our progressive opponents have no hesitation & have dominated the debate. This must end now, & all should join this fight to defend our nation, our culture our civilization. We must ignore the wild, false accusations they throw at us & fight, with apologies to Churchill, "...we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
The America we love is worth this fight, this sacrifice.
@ALAN THEN@Jonathan Kahnoski I am not certain, good Sir, that I am worthy of your praise. When the men at the Alamo made their stand, they didn't know history would remember them as it has. They only knew what duty called them to do.
I love this country. I love its people. I love the Declaration of Independence & the U.S. Constitution. I love the U.S. Army, in which I served for 20 years. I love my God and my church. For all of these, duty calls me to defend them.
If those who came before me can answer that call, then so can I. You are always welcome to join the cause.
Some very interesting letters and there is quite a bit of truth in all of them. Tjhe concept of 'netiquette' has disappeared completely and is completely due to the lack of face-to-face interaction. It's sad really, because it reveals the person's true inner self.
People could use more diversity. As adolescent/young adult, get out into the world. See other cultures that don't speak your language. Learn a bit of humility.
@William Braun I agree, the lack of face-to-face interaction and the proliferation of in-your-face interaction on the social networks and comments sections of various media and on a variety of subjects. Much of this disrespect and, in some cases, anger and hate, is indicative of a lack of social skills and common courtesy in our society today.
What we see today from progressives (as distinct from what used to be called liberals) is worship of the holy trinity of God the Government, God the Son (Obama even now, although other contenders for primacy may eventually succeed him) and God the Thinker (academics, New York Times and MSNBC pundits, among others -- those who inspire and inform the faithful).
Anyone who thinks the progressive agenda isn't religious -- based more on faith than on fact -- and isn't at odds with the belief in "Nature's God," as cited in the Declaration of Independence, doesn't realize that we may be in the early stages of religious conflict in the United States. Because progressivism is, at its root, a religion minus the traditional religious trappings.
I remember watching Walter Cronkite. I was young and didn't realize he was an uber liberal because I was young. It was not until I became older and became more widely read that I realized Walter never presented the other side to the story. It took me some time and a very interesting history professor in college that opened my eyes to the propaganda in ABC, NBC, and CBS. Yes, we had one story but not the facts. Example? South Vietnam and the US won the Tet Offensive militarily but the US media without exception called it a defeat. Their Fake News caused our ally to fall when the North Vietnamese invaded South Vietnam and we did not go to the aid of our ally. Now that we have an alternative source of information of course there will be conflict. We now know both sides of the story and are better informed than we were in the past.
Ideologies, values, etc. can easily fall into the realm of civil discussion at the dinner table.When that discussion gets into economics, it’s different – what works is free-market capitalism. The farther people go towards socialism, always results in yet another Utopia like Venezuela.
My lib friends go absolutely bonkers with expletives to follow when I ask: “Do you really want the US to look like Detroit, where the median home value is $42,000?”
A Princeton PhD, was a US diplomat for over 20 years, mostly in Eastern Europe, and was promoted to the Senior Foreign Service in 1997. For the Open World Leadership Center, he speaks with
its delegates from Europe/Eurasia on the topic, "E Pluribus Unum? What Keeps the United States United" (http://johnbrownnotesandessays.blogspot.com/2017/03/notes-and-references-for-discussion-e.html). Affiliated with Georgetown University (http://explore.georgetown.edu/people/jhb7/) for over ten years, he still shares ideas with students about public diplomacy.
The papers of his deceased father -- poet and diplomat John L. Brown -- are stored at Georgetown University Special Collections at the Lauinger Library. They are manuscript materials valuable to scholars interested in post-WWII U.S.-European cultural relations.
This blog is dedicated to him, Dr. John L. Brown, a remarkable linguist/humanist who wrote in the Foreign Service Journal (1964) -- years before "soft power" was ever coined -- that "The CAO [Cultural Affairs Officer] soon comes to realize that his job is really a form of love-making and that making love is never really successful unless both partners are participating."